A ROACH LIFE
By TOM MILLER

 

you get it into your head

it goes something like this:

"i'm not going to make it.

the whole thing's a sham."

 

you're there in the bar

drinking a fancy drink

mostly mixer

but you act like it's

all gin

 

you slur your worrrrds

 

pretend the lady sitting next to you

is somebody you're permitted to talk with

 

move over to where she's sitting

she's drinking gin

straight gin

 

"hi," you say

it's feeble

pathetic

 

"hi yourself," she replies.

it's angels calling from the

heavens-- she and her gin--

she's tougher than you

 

she can take it

 

"my name is frank.

what's your name?" you ask.

you ask sincerely

 

"why?" she says.

 

you're baffled

you don't know why

 

you don't know if you

want to screw her or

get into her head to

see how she works

 

and if it's to see how she

works it feels all fake

even if it isn't

 

even if it's real

that's what you get

 

"because," you continue

"because i'd like to meet you."

 

"what for?" she replies.

"who are you that i should meet you?

Especially in this place. who would

i ever want to meet in this place?"

 

you counter,

"not everybody here is an asshole.

some of us are sincere and decent."

 

then

you remember your last visit

to the SHADY BAR

 

you ordered a PINK VIRGIN

a concoction made from cream

peach schnapps and a cherry

 

you sat in the same seat

talking to an ugly woman with

a busted lip and three teeth

 

her tit was hanging out of her

dirty bra it had brown around

the nipple like someone had had

her tit up the ass

 

but with all the PINK VIRGINS

you had had that night she looked like

a perfect princess like the high

school prom queen-- the one who told

you you had a face like a sidewalk

 

and you said,

"what's your name?"

 

she looked at you as if

maybe

she might at least

suck your dick in the toilet

stall and swallow but instead

 

she said, "get away from me,

you white nigger!"

 

she moved away from you and

went with the guy with the oil

in his hair and four teeth

 

her kind

 

they made it together

somewhere so you could see it

 

you watched them suck each other's

lips like animals at the zoo they

drooled and tongues darted in and

out of places that haven't seen a

toothbrush in weeks

 

you thought about bacteria and

leeches death and crabs

 

you became erect and envious

 

they couldn't make enough

PINK VIRGINS to put you

out of this hell but you

ordered another one just the same

 

this time

you couldn't taste the peach

but you didn't care

 

it was over

 

 

 

 

the people

all have faces

like they were cut out

of magazines

 

those are the pretty ones

 

others have it like

sand blasted sphinxes

old and weathered and old

 

those are the ones that

make it

 

possessing the beautiful

like collectors of antiquity

 

polishing and nurturing and

admiring their expensive prizes

 

you're not the one

 

it's that way every night

but you keep coming back like

chicken pox or herpes

 

the same old you

but you get better

 

you survive the poison

adapt to it

 

make food out of it

 

poison becomes nutrition

roaches lunching on

nerve gas

 

spray me

spray me

 

i love it

 

 

 

you try a compliment

 

they tell you

in the books about how to meet

that special someone they tell you

to compliment something about them

 

compliment a piece of jewelry

compliment the eyes; so poetic

compliment anything at all

 

women like to be complimented

and why shouldn't they

 

anyone who spends so many hours

in the bathroom putting on

the makeup and the fragrance

and the hairspray and the powder

and the lip gloss and the tampon

and the nail polish and the

accessories and the hair color

and the mouthwash and the

eye liner and the deodorant

and the girdle and the lift bra

and the pantyhose on the shaven

legs of summer

 

you might as well approach

a beautiful woman at the bar

and say, "what are you, a

yeti? what have you done to

yourself? you look like an

oil painting that hasn't dried."

 

but men admire the work ethic

look at the time she took

to hide herself and become

this advertisement

 

i want one

i would pay for one

so instead you say,

 

"nice eyes," or

"nice hair," or

"you smell nice" or

"lovely earrings," or

"a body like yours

shouldn't be ruined by

a dress even if it is

ralph lauren."

 

why don't we instead

go up to these women and tell

the truth

 

"listen bitch, you can throw

all the makeup and jewelry

and fashion design in your

cheap budget on your gangly frame

but let's face it

 

i want to stuff my

hose in your yank!"

 

this line never gets a man laid

but at least it's honest

 

so you go for the compliment

let's say it's earnest

 

let's say you say,

"god, you're beautiful.

 

if you were an island

i'd want to be stranded on you

 

if you were a jail

I'd want to be imprisoned in you

 

if you were a rainbow

i'd be your storm."

 

but the truth is

you want to grind your pole

in her clam until you

shoot your ratty juice

and then

 

isn't it true;

she's the last thing you'd like

to see in your bed in the

morning?

 

sure.

 

you'd wake up

peel the sheets away from

the dried cum on your stomach

 

turn to her

looking at the crust

at the corner of her lips

 

the crust in her eyes

the crust at her dusty snatch

 

look at the blotch of blood

in the center of the sheets

and say to yourself,

 

"i should have fed the octopus

in my salt water tank." but

maybe you had her for her mind.

 

yes

her mind

 

her mind

 

 

 

she wakes up

 

"where am i? who are you?

O god, no. i really need

to go. O god, why? Why did

i... what am i doing here...

my boyfriend's going to

kill me..." etc. etc.

 

you make her a boiled egg

 

she doesn't eat it

 

she throws on her clothing

and heads out of your

nasty little home as fast

as her cinderella feet can

carry her

 

and you eat the egg

you wash the sheet because

you know you don't want to

sleep in that smell

 

that smell that seems

to last for days

 

you find a personal

vaginal napkin in the trashcan

in the bathroom and there's

a white viscous fluid involved

 

she goes home to her boyfriend

they make passionate love

he gets your cum on his dick

and she bleeds on his bed too

 

meantime

you add lots of bleach to the laundry

and gag on the egg and call your mother

with whom you haven't spoken in years

 

"mom, hi. it's me, frank."

 

"frank? frank who?"

 

"your son, ma. i love you."

 

"who is this?" - click -

 

 

 

you'll be back at the bar

won't you

 

sure you will

 

you'll be drinking PINK VIRGINS

and looking at the beautiful people

 

you'll desire them

 

you'll imagine a life

where everything goes according

to the best movies you ever saw

 

you'll think about kissing

clean, clinical and germ free

 

you'll make passionate love and

there will be no blood, no yeast,

no inappropriate fluids

 

you'll get a house on a hill

with a white picket fence

 

you'll communicate and grow

and learn and prosper

 

you'll have children

one boy and one girl

and they'll be perfect little children

 

they'll go to school and become

a doctor and a lawyer

 

they'll drive nice cars

you'll sit on the porch swing with

your wife and while away the days

 

she'll knit a sweater and you'll

carve a piece of wood into a monkey

 

yes

 

that's what will happen

 

yes

 

sure it will

 

 

this is it and that's all there is

 

 

drink a few beers

watch the video play

listen to classical music

 

and this is it

there's nothing more to it

 

why bother

feeling what someone else

is feeling

 

 

clock tick tick

 

 

numbers go by

counting the moments

that can never be

remembered

 

the way they were

 

not in paintings

poems or

stories told in some

library to a bunch of

stoned kids dying to

get out of there and

back to the canal where

the fish are legendary

 

triumphs

 

they drop their lines

and wait

 

wait watching the water

go by

 

 

poem after poem

 

 

you can type it

in a hurry

 

that doesn't make

a poem bad

 

per se

 

no and sometimes

it makes a poem better

 

to just

spill it out

 

like soup and cum and

gasoline

 

there can be power

in a poem

 

written in a hurry

 

 

call the medics -- it could be the end

 

 

in the middle of a poem

he clutched his heart

 

reached over to the phone and

dialed 911

 

emergency! emergency!

the poet has done something important!

 

of course they arrive

several hours late

 

and the poet is dead

and the poem has become

 

smudged out in the blood

 

 

3 poems for 3 people

 

 

1: you are worthless

kill yourself

save air for people

that matter

 

2: heard you died recently

don't tell anyone or they

might make a big deal

about it

 

3: sometimes i think

about what it means

to be alive and sometimes

i think about what it means

to be dead

 

i suppose

either one will do

 

 

courage in the face of destiny

 

 

i put a flask of sake in the microwave

forty-five seconds

 

and as the sake warmed

i noticed an ant crawling around

 

i thought

he's going to fry and i watched

 

like a guard at the

halocaust

 

forty-five seconds later

the ant was still crawling around

 

i had a certain admiration

for his courage as i pulled out

 

the sake flask and

crushed the ant with my finger

 

 

this writing will get me nowhere

 

 

i imagine

in a dream of sorts

that someone will bail me out

 

say something like

he's good or maybe

he's great

 

on a stage

they'll gather around

to hear me read

poems i've written

 

but the dream

turns sour

 

the audience boos

and leaves

 

then there's nothing left

but me on the stage

under the lights

 

then the lights go out

 

 

there must be someone

 

 

out there

i walk the streets

watch my shadow

dance

 

from wall to

wall

 

across the bushes

pirouettes over the grass

the most beautiful thing

in the moonlight

 

sometimes

i see the whole body

alive with darkness

 

other times

spinning off into

blackness

 

blackness in

black

 

invisible

 

this is my love

 

 

terracotta floors

 

 

3:39 a.m.

 

typing into this monster

screen

 

letters

on a board

like a typewriter

only modern

 

i can talk with anybody

in the world if

if so desire

 

who has a computer

like i do

 

but for those who don't

i'll may never know them

just as i may never know

 

the deep tiny lines

in the terracotta floors

only a microscope can

show me

 

i don't own a microscope

some don't own computers

and some

 

will never know

the deep tiny lines

 

 

skeleton face

 

 

my friend

has a skull

in his file cabinet

 

we look at it

on occasion

and often laugh

 

it could have been

someone important or

maybe just another

jerk

 

like so many people

i know who are alive

with flesh on their heads

 

but they'll all end up

like this

 

and

if they're lucky

 

they'll end up

in a file cabinet

where somebody might

look at them and

on occasion

laugh

 

instead of

underground where

nobody laughs or

cries or

 

anything

 

 

march 3rd

 

 

if people talk

i can't hear them

now

 

everything is quiet

except for the humming

of the computer

 

outside

moisture is forming on the

grass in diamond beads

 

clouds move by

quietly

 

clouds always move by

quietly

 

this is march 3rd

 

something may happen

to make this date matter

 

i'll know tomorrow

when i read the newspaper

 

it will most likely be

a death that will make

march 3rd matter

 

somebody famous perhaps

or maybe somebody who

doesn't matter at all

 

 

help me

 

 

sometimes

i ask for help

 

i ask into the air

to no one in particular

 

i say,

"help me. please, help."

 

then i cry

like an actor cries

 

fake tears

sometimes it seems

 

i feel

retarded

 

drink my beer in gulps

mad gulps

 

eat some pill

any pill

 

then life becomes smooth

smooth, so far...

 

not death or

sickness

 

more like comedy

and i laugh

 

fake laugh

 

laugh like a kid

who doesn't know what's coming

 

 

father

 

 

i've written a few poems about my father and i'm not sure why

because he was a sort of worthless drunk wishywashy guy-- not

much of a man-- i'll tell you a story-- i was in the back seat

of the car and i couldn't have been more than 14 years old-- and

mom was in the passenger seat-- we were on our way to disney

world-- and i saw my mom reach over with her hand-- and i saw

my father reach over with his hand-- and they interlocked their

pinky fingers-- and i looked at the two of them with their pinky

fingers interlocked and thought, "christ, how pathetic!"-- but of

course i didn't say anything-- i was much more excited about going

to disney world and going down main street to the magic shop where

i would make my father buy me a magic trick that turns quarters

into dimes-- and when we got there that's exactly what i did--

and the trick cost twenty-five dollars and after i read the

instructions i asked my father for a quarter and he gave it to me

and i put it into the magical box and waved my arm and abracadabra

the quarter turned into a dime that i gave back to my father

who said, "how about that!" and put the dime in his pocket and i

pocketed the quarter and used it later to buy candy-- i always

bought candy which ended up rotting my teeth and costing over

eight-hundred dollars to pull out of my face-- but i'll never forget

my father and the time we went to the movies and in the middle of

a big action sequence he said he had to go to the bathroom and i

waited and waited for him to come back-- and when he didn't come

back i went out of the theater to look for him and found him in

the bar next door drunk again on martinis.

 

i cried because we always shammed each other even though we loved

each other.

 

that's when i was 14 but i know better now. he's dead and i'm an

alcoholic.

 

 

sleep & dream

 

 

the old world

disappears

and a new one

emerges

 

rainbow colors

naked jaunts

around the block

the neighbors wave

hello

 

you fuck the

dog down the street

and the girl scout

and the alter boy

 

then you fly

on the roof of the

gas station and

spit fire until the

sheriff shoots you

down

 

but the bullets go

through you and you

laugh

 

scream and laugh

and cry

 

fly off

into a tornado and

die 3 maybe 4 times

 

your powers weaken

you fall into the snow

 

you think about santa

santa clause at the mall

 

marriage and

strap-on eleven inch

cocks

 

and lipstick

 

smiling when you're angry

for the camera

 

the money and the

glory

 

money and the

glory

 

money and the

glory

 

O lawdy O lawd

 

she is standing there

her arms outstretched

 

tears and mouth

tits and heart

 

her arms outstretched

she reaches for you

 

reaches for

anything you can give her

 

but what can you give her

that matters?

 

the sound of gunfire as

black birds scatter

into the wind

 

 

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